A Lesson From Darwin – How to Adapt

Charles Darwin succinctly summarised his theory on adaptation:

            “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”


cute green chameleon

And it’s the same in the sales arena. It’s not the most talented, most articulate salesperson that sells the most. It’s the individual who can adapt his or her style to that of the prospect or customer.

Adaptive selling is when a salesperson customises his or her presentation to a prospect’s or customer’s buying personality style. Since people’s buying personality styles are as different and unique as individuals are, you can only expect to get a general feel for their characteristics.

The following four buying personality styles are based on patterns of communication behavior identified by David Merril and Roger Reid. These personality styles will help you adjust and adapt your natural selling style to one that your buyer will react better to:

1. Analytical

They want to know “how.” Do you know someone who wants the facts before they make a decision? This type of buying personality likes to know the pros and the cons and all the details before making a decision. They are normally a financial or technical type of person, and perceive themselves as experts in their field. The best way to deal with an analytical buyer is to present them with just the facts, the timeline, and the expected results. Never challenge an analytical’s facts or opinions overtly. Slow down your presentation and let them ask plenty of questions, making sure you stick just to factual answers. Allow them plenty of time to analyse and make their decision.

2. Driver

Do you know someone who wants to be in control of every situation and who is competitive enough to want to win at everything? This is a driver personality. Like the analyticals, drivers like to have all of the facts before making a decision. They want to know “what.” The main difference is that a driver makes a quick decision. A lot of professional football players are driver personalities who focus only on winning the game they’re in and excel at making split second decisions. They rarely worry about what others think and feel and tend to do business across the desk rather than side-by-side. Stick with the facts in presenting to drivers and get right to the point. They definitely don’t like small talk. Give them plenty of options to choose from and make sure they feel they’re in control of the situation.

3. Amiable

Do you know someone you would describe as a “people person”? Someone who can unite a group of people under a cause and bring a team together to accomplish a task easily? An amiable is not competitive or assertive, but is rather more concerned about relationships with others. An amiable’s office is most likely open and welcoming with pictures of family or friends. They like to do business side-by-side and tend to react better to those they can trust. An amiable needs to know “why.” You want to establish a personal relationship with an amiable. Use “we” and “us” language to let them know you’re on their team, and strive to make a personal commitment to an amiable.

4. Expressive

In expressive is charismatic, nurturing, and focused on the bigger picture. Oprah Winfrey is a quintessential expressive. She focuses on relationships with people but only to the extent that her audience and followers can benefit from their experiences. Expressives don’t get caught up in the daily details, but rather focus on building relationships to gain power, which makes people very important to them. They also strive for recognition or status. Since expressives like to know “who,” you should give them recognition and approval and ask them how they feel about your product or service. Focus on the big picture of how your product or service will benefit them and only support your ideas with facts and figures to show them what’s possible.


Since everyone is unique, most people will be a combination of styles, but now that you know the basics of each buying personality, you can read your prospect’s or customer’s behaviour and determine the best way to communicate with them.

The best way to accommodate the style is to focus on how to use your own natural style of selling to complement that of your prospect or customer.

There is a whole chapter on the above personality types on our book ‘The Natural Sales Evolution’ available on Amazon. If you’d like a FREE copy of this book, e-mail us telling us which personality type you are, and how you use your natural style of selling to work with your customers.

And if you’d like to understand your own style a little better, you can take a Free Personality Test

Good Luck!

Got a comment?

Catch us on Social Media and join the discussion!

Liked this article?

Subscribe to receive sales insights and tips directly to your inbox.

Click the tick box below to confirm you are human


Just 3 quick details to reveal how competitive our prices are.

Full Name
Telephone No

Don’t worry we will never share your details with any 3rd party.

Thank you.